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On November 7th, Missourians will vote on a constitutional initiative that would, in effect, allow Missouri researchers to conduct any stem cell research that is permitted under federal law. The above video is a response to an add that ran during game three of the World Series, supporting Amendment 2, and it features Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, as well as “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Patricia Heaton and Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel (who once gave me a man-hug for getting him coffee).

The media has been all over this one.

To listen to a podcast of two “experts” debating the merits of Amendment 2, click here.

To read the New York Times’ take on the ad supporting Amendment 2, starring a very animated and Parkinsons riddled Michael J. Fox, click here.

A column in yesterday’s Boston Globe talked with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa about the Cardinals’ policy regarding political activism. LaRussa said he encourages it:

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa was asked yesterday if he had a policy or preference regarding players who get involved in political or social causes. La Russa, of course, is a passionate animal rights advocate. “Our policy is you recognize each person as the professional side and personal side, and you respect both sides of them,” he said. “Actually, our organization encourages guys to get involved in something beyond just baseball. Whether you agree with the choice or whatever, I just like the fact that guys make a commitment and they get involved.”

I’m not sure I 100 percent believe LaRussa. Sounds like damage control to me. What if Suppan was speaking out against inter-racial marriage or homosexuality? Something tells me LaRussa wouldn’t be embracing his pitcher’s eagerness to participate in the political process then.

Dissing embryonic stem cell research is less controversial than dissing inter-racial marriage. But that’s not to say that stem cell research is unpopular. In fact, a majority of Americans support stem cell research of some kind.

Stem cell research is is controversial because, with the present state of technology, starting a stem cell line requires the destruction of a human embryo. Opponents of the research argue that this practice is a slippery slope to reproductive cloning and tantamount to the instrumentalization of a potential human being. Contrarily, medical researchers in the field argue that it is necessary to pursue embryonic stem cell research because the resultant technologies are expected to have significant medical potential, and that the embryos used for research are only those slated for destruction anyway.

It’s hard to imagine that stem cell research could lead to human cloning. At least, not anytime soon. The idea of human cloning is hugely unpopular. If you held a vote in Congress to ban human cloning, it would pass with 100 percent support. Not to mention, science is nowhere near ready to try and clone a human. Maybe what Suppan and the rest are worried about is that this law will lead to the possibility that one day humans could be cloned. But that day seems a long way off and, in the meantime, stem cell research could save a lot of lives.

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